Potassium superoxide

Potassium Superoxide

Potassium superoxide

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Potassium superoxide is the chemical compound with the formula KO<sub>2</sub>. This rare salt of the superoxide ion is produced by burning molten potassium in pure oxygen. Potassium superoxide is used as an oxidizing agent in industrial chemistry, as a CO<sub>2</sub> scrubber, H<sub>2</sub>O dehumidifier and O<sub>2</sub> generator in rebreathers, spacecraft, submarines and spacesuit life support systems.

Important reactions:
4 KO<sub>2</sub> + 2 H<sub>2</sub>O → 4 KOH + 3 O<sub>2</sub>
2 KOH + CO<sub>2</sub> → K<sub>2</sub>CO<sub>3</sub> + H<sub>2</sub>O
K<sub>2</sub>CO<sub>3</sub> + CO<sub>2</sub> + H<sub>2</sub>O → 2 KHCO<sub>3</sub>

The Russian Space Agency has had success using potassium superoxide in chemical oxygen generators for its spacesuits and Soyuz spacecraft. KO<sub>2</sub> has also been utilized in canisters for rebreathers for fire fighting and mine rescue work, but had limited use in scuba rebreathers because of the dangers of explosive reaction with water. The theoretical capacity of KO<sub>2</sub> is the absorption of 0.309 kg CO<sub>2</sub> per kg of absorbent while 0.38 kg O<sub>2</sub> are generated per kg of absorbent. The human body though will produce more CO<sub>2</sub> than oxygen absorbed,...
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